Everyone knows that choosing the correct underwear for women can be confusing for their partners but it can also be extremely puzzling for the women, especially when there are so many different terms out there for what seems to be the same kind of lingerie.
However, below you will find some useful definitions of the more baffling lingerie names that will help to ensure that you, or your partner, can now go underwear shopping fully armed with the correct knowledge that will help you choose the most suitable undergarments for your specific requirements.


The name of this garment stems from the use of short dresses and nightwear that were worn by infants and made it easier to change nappies. The term ‘babydoll’ itself was then widely adopted for adult lingerie garments after the 1956 film of the same name, Baby Doll.

A babydoll is essentially a short, pretty nightdress, which aims to accentuate certain aspects of the female body, such as the bosom and waist by having a cut that is tighter around the top half and then flows loosely down to the upper thigh or thereabouts. Babydolls come in all kinds of materials, although cotton, chiffon and sheer mesh are the most popular.
Babydolls are a very popular form of lingerie because they are so comfortable and often come with matching knickers, which can easily be worn as ‘sexy’ nightwear and are also very flattering.


The term basque is of French origin and suggests a garment like a ‘jacket’ or ‘bodice’. Basques can often be mistaken for corsets; however, they do differ in that a corset is meant to fit the body all the way down to the hips, whereas a basque normally stops short of the hips.

Basques are also made of thinner material than corsets and are designed to lengthen the waist, whilst making your hips looks narrower. They do not, however, normally offer any kind of shaping compression, so if this is something you desire, you are best to choose a different style of lingerie.

Basques are extremely pretty and can be worn with bra straps and garters, which make them a very popular romantic lingerie item, as well as very common for wedding underwear. They are also ideal for wearing under lightweight clothing, such as blouses and will give any outfit an exciting, pretty twist.


Another term of French origin, the camisole has developed from the historical ‘overshirt’ or ‘jacket’ to a pretty item of female lingerie. The camisole, also known as cami, is a sleeveless top and can be tightfitting, as most modern day vest tops are, or loose fitting as the more delicate and fashionable versions are.

Historically camisoles used to be worn as nightwear garments as when worn with matching knickers they were extremely sexy, as well as comfortable. However, it is now becoming increasingly common for them to be worn underneath jumpers and cardigans as a normal top, as well as being worn on its own to glam up a skirt or trouser outfit. Camisoles often come in a variety of comfortable, pretty materials, such as silk, satin and cotton but lycra and spandex are also becoming more popular.


The term chemise is once again from the French, meaning ‘shirt’. The design stems from the undergarments that, historically, were worn to protect the outer clothing from the body’s sweat, known as ‘smocks’.
These days, a chemise is much prettier and is very similar in look to a babydoll, although they are often longer and tighter fitting than babydolls are, sometimes even extending to ankle length. A chemise, like babydolls are sleeveless and often prettily decorated with lace trimmings or bows and ribbons.
This garment is very flattering on most body shapes and is usually worn as nightwear; however, due to its pretty and flexible design, as well as the comfortable materials being used, it can also be worn under casual or formal dresses as a slip.


The origins of this term are pretty much unknown; although some have tried connecting it to Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt…make of that what you will. A teddy is basically a lingerie garment that covers the torso and crotch area of the body and is therefore similar to a one-piece swimsuit or bodysuit.

Teddys can be found in a variety of styles, from the more traditional loose garments which can be worn under normal clothes and with trousers and skirts, or in a more tightfitting style, which are usually extremely pretty and designed to be found more in the bedroom, either as nightwear or for the pleasure of you and your partner.

Gemma Sly writes for Freya Lingerie (lingerie and swimwear to a K cup). She’s a passionate about getting the perfect fit and offers top advice, style and fashion tips. When she isn’t blogging she’s at her local gym or updating her many social media adventures.